| The Sadako in Me
Sadako was an easy child to raise.
Her parents have said that she was so helpful and thoughtful she almost seemed like an adult.
She would offer to do chores, saying, "Mother, leave that --I'll take care of it."
Her friends at school described her as quiet and reliable.
Though never an attention seeker, when it came to sports, no one could outperform Sadako.
After she was hospitalized, her outgoing personality came to the fore.
She ventured out of the Pediatrics Ward and wandered the hospital freely, chatting comfortably with adult patients.
The nurses remember her as smiling, cheerful, and active, a persevering child with great love for her family.
Sadako lived life fully in all her worlds-- at home with her family, at school, and in the hospital.
She displayed various aspects of her personality in each of these worlds--worlds that should have been expanding steadily.
|Her Friends in the 6th Grade Bamboo Class|
Children who Experienced the Anguish of War
1948 / Nobori-cho Elementary School
Some years after the war, Hiroshima still had a classroom shortage because of delays in reconstructing school buildings destroyed by the atomic bombing. Some schools had to hold multiple classes in partitioned auditoriums. The scars of war still seriously impacted the children's lives. For example, one-third of Sadako's classmates in the Bamboo Class were survivors. A number of them had been repatriated from China and others had lost parents to the war. The photo shows class being held in a temporary outdoor classroom. Sadako was world entere elementary school the next year.
| Mr. Nobuhiko
"When Sadako passed me up during relay practices, she did it with a snicker. I mean, that hurt. I can still hear that snicker."
Building Unity through the Relay
1954 / Nobori-cho Elementary
Mr. Nomura, who had become the Bamboo Class teacher in the sixth grade, was concerned that his class lacked a sense of unity. He vowed to cultivate solidarity among them. As a result, the Bamboos, who had come in last in the Spring Sports Day relay race, decided to practice relay racing each day until the Fall Sports Day. The entire class practiced daily after school let out. It was the athletic, fleet-footed Sadako whose speed dominated the practices.
| Mr. Nobuhiko
"We learned the importance of perseverance and unity from our teacher, Mr. Nomura. I still think that the harmony we cultivated made it the best class ever."
Fun School Life
Fall 1954 / Miyajima
When Fall Sports Day came, all that practicing paid off when the Bamboos won the relay race. Even after Sports Day, they continued to practice--among the Bamboos, who had trained their minds on a single goal, a sense of unity had sprouted. When the class took a school excursion to Miyajima Island in the fall and climbed Mt. Misen, the Sadako raced her classmates and was among the first group of girls to reach the top. At the peak everyone laughed when Sadako loudly announced, "Well, that was fun, but now I'm hungry." But those fun school days were about to end. In the photo, Sadako sits in the second row from the front on the right.
Nobori-cho Elementary School Graduation Yearbook
|Change in environment due to hospitalization|
| When I showed
Sadako this dress-up kimono, she burst into tears
and said, "Mother, you went to so much trouble and
expense for me." I said, "Please, model it for us,"
and she seemed happy even as she wiped her tears
away. (Excerpt from her mother's contribution to
the essay collection Kokeshi)
Hospitalization--And Her First Dress-up Kimono
March 1955 / Nobori-cho Elementary School
When the doctor informed Mr. Sasaki that Sadako had leukemia and didn't have much longer, his mind went blank. What could he do to make her happy? They decided to make her first dress-up kimono. Mrs. Sasaki enlisted a relative's help and stayed up all night sewing it for Sadako.
The Money Pouch and Zori (sandals) Sadako Received with Her New Kimono
| Ms. Tomiko
I was choked up. "Why Sadako?" I sometimes thought, "I'm a survivor, too," and wondered if I might get sick. I worried about her and visited her a lot. That month between Sadako's hospitalization and graduation seemed to go by very slowly."
21 Fearful Children
1954 / Peace Memorial Park
Sadako was now in the hospital. When Mr. Nomura told his class that Sadako had "A-bomb disease," they could not believe it. Some cried. They decided to take turns visiting her to give her support. Everyone promised not to reveal to her the nature of her illness so that Sadako would not lose heart.
She wanted to go to junior high school.
1957 / Nobori-cho Junior High School
When the Bamboos went to visit Sadako, she often asked them about junior high school. Some of them visited her on the way home from the entrance ceremony. Sadako seemed to like thinking about school and asked questions like, "Which homeroom am I in?" She kept junior high textbooks in her hospital room, and was worried about how she could catch up on the missed schoolwork.
Ms. Tomiko Kawano
Sadako would ask us, "What is junior high like?" or "Is English class hard?" Since we knew she would never see the inside of the junior high school, it was painful to answer her. All we could do was try to ease her feelings by saying things like, "Junior high--what a bore," and "Elementary school was better."
|Transition into Adulthood|
"Send me letters." Sadako Sasaki, Hiroshima City Red Cross Hospital, 2nd Floor
In May, Sadako was moved into a double room with Kiyo Okura, who was two years older. Under the influence of her new roommate, Sadako began to read novels and find penpals in girls magazines. Soon, she was corresponding with a number of people. On the threshold of adolescence, she found her interests broadening little by little.
Ms. Kiyo Okura, Sadako's hospital roommate
Sadako--such a curious girl. She would wander into sickrooms around the hospital and collect various kinds of information from other patients. One day she learned that boiled cabbage tasted good with a sprinkling of soy sauce. The two of us went to the hospital kitchen and tried it out, and it really was tasty."
Summer 1955 / Moto-machi
At the time, photos were so precious that people sometimes changed into their dress-up kimonos to have their photos taken. Sadako's expression does not vary in any of the photos taken the year she was 12. The swelling from the sickness makes her look plump. When she faced a camera, she stiffened. She had smiled at cameras as a little girl, so this reaction may have indicated budding self-consciousness.
| Ms. Kiyo Okura,
When I hugged Sadako, I was amazed by how bony her shoulders were. That was when I thought, Sadako knows what illness she has.
A Girl's Death from Leukemia
Summer 1955 / Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital
In July, a five-year-old girl named Yuki died from leukemia, Sadako's disease. On her face were the kind of spots that Sadako had on her legs. After Sadako and her roommate Kiyo went to Yuki's room to bid her farewell, Sadako blurted out, "I wonder if I'm going to die like that." The two of them held each other and cried in the dark corridor. The photo is of Sadako and Kiyo.
|The blood transfusions I got in the hospital hurt a lot. The doctor said that you have to put up with some pain to get well. I don't mind the pain if I can just get well soon and go visit you during spring break.-- (from a letter thought to be written by Sadako to a penpal)||I was in the atomic bombing and I went into the hospital. On August 6th I went to pay my respects at Peace Park and sang Genbaku-O-Yurusumaji (Never Again The A-bomb ). After I got back to the hospital, I kept singing it as I lay on my bed. (From a text thought to be written by Sadako to a penpal)|
Battling disease was a grueling life.
Date unknown / Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital
She never flinched from or complained about injections. She bore them quietly. Until she died Sadako never cried out in pain. However, after the little girl died from leukemia, she occasionally whimpered softly to the nurses, "It's my turn next, isn't it?" From around May, when her condition stabilized, Sadako was allowed to go home on the weekends. Her attending physician wanted Sadako to enjoy the time she had left. The photo is of the nursing staff that took care of Sadako.
The Anti-nuclear Song that Sadako Sang to Herself
August 19, 1955 / Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital
On August 19, a delegation from China came to visit the patients in the Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital. At their welcome reception, the song Genbaku-O-Yurusumaji was sung. Sadako learned it and later taught it to her roommate Kiyo.
Ms. Kiyo Okura
Something in the song Genbaku-O-Yurusumaji seemed to resonate with Sadako. She sang it to me over and over up on the hospital rooftop until I learned it.
|The Hope Entrusted to the Paper Cranes|
|Ms. Kiyo Okura
Sadako had ample time for folding. The only problem was getting paper, which was expensive in those days. She made do with medicine paper wrappings and whatever else she could scrounge. She went around to other patients' rooms and asked for the paper wrappings of their get-well presents, which she cut to the right size.
| 28 Hospital Life and
The arrival of a bunch of cellophane paper cranes sent from Nagoya launched a flurry of crane folding in the hospital. Besides brightening sickrooms with a profusion of colors, folding cranes was a pastime welcomed by patients required to stay quietly in their beds.
|The Anguish and Regrets of Those Left Behind|
| Shigeo Sasaki,
Sadako often said, "I'm a bad child to you aren't I? I've used up so much money being sick." When I remember that, my heart aches as if it will break. Juicers cost so much we couldn't afford one. If we had had one, we could have gotten more nutrition into Sadako, even after she lost her appetite. Thinking about that makes me feel so wretched I can hardly stand it.
Doing Everything to Make Her Happy
Date unknown / Hiroshima Children's Cultural Hall
During Sadako's hospitalization, the Sasakis were burdened by a huge debt because they had served as guarantor for a friend. They nevertheless did their best to make Sadako happy, taking her to the sea, the Hiroshima Children's Cultural Hall, and other places. Concerned about her parent's predicament, Sadako never complained.
Around fall of 1955, Sadako's condition took a sharp turn for the worse. Bearing up under her own loneliness, one night Sadako told her mother, "You'd better hurry home so my little brother and sister won't be sad." But her eyes welled with tears as her mother started to leave. "How can I leave you when you're crying?" asked Mrs. Sasaki, weeping herself. Mrs. Sasaki resolved not to leave her alone at night any more. Starting the next day, she began to spend the night at the hospital.
Sasaki, elder brother
She was fully conscious till the end. I don't think she had any idea she was about to die. She just slipped away, suddenly and without suffering, as if drifting off to sleep.
Her Last Words Were "It's good."
October 26, 1955 / Shinkoji Temple
In mid-October, Sadako's left leg turned reddish-purple, swelling to 1.5 times normal size. The severe, throbbing pain kept her awake at night. On the morning of October 25, the family was told that the time was near. They gathered in Sadako's hospital room. Mr. Sasaki urged Sadako to eat something and she responded, "Tea on rice, please." Someone rushed to a nearby eatery to buy a bowl of rice. After taking a spoonful, Sadako said, "It's good." Those were her last words. She ate a second spoonful, then passed away as if drifting to sleep. She had been in the hospital about eight months.
The Suffering of Sadako's Family
August 6, 1956 / Peace Memorial Park
Sadako's parents experienced the heartbreak of having their child precede them in death. They were also stricken with regret, because their financial hardships had prevented them from doing all they wanted for her. Thinking about how the atomic bombing had given her leukemia a full ten years after the end of the war, they were overwhelmed with emotion. On top of it all, Sadako's story was taken up by the media and various quarters, making her famous. This attention forced the Sasakis to continually confront their painful memories; it also exposed them to the cold gaze of those who wanted them to know that Sadako was not the only victim. Photo of Sadako's family offering paper cranes to the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims. (Memorial Monument for Hiroshima, City of Peace)
The Medical Chart where She Gazed at Her Death
When Sadako's bed linen was being changed after her death, a piece of paper containing figures from Sadako's blood tests was found. No one had ever told Sadako what disease she had, but Sadako seemed to understand that it was a disease of the blood. The recorded figures stopped at July 4. It is not known whether or not her record-keeping continued after that date.
Mr. Nobuiko Jigo, classmate
「When we went to see her, it was with the idea of cheering her up, making her happy. When we learned that she had kept a record of her blood test results, we were shocked. If she knew she was going to die all that time, what was the point of all our cheerful talk?
Young Girl's Death from the A-bomb--Sadako Sasaki, 12
Years of Age
Sadako's 4,675 Days of Life
The Sadako in Me
Hiroshima in 1955, the Year of Sadako's Death
Sadako Through the Years -From Hiroshima to the World -
Toward Construction of the Children's Peace Monument
The Sadako Story Spreads
Individuals and Groups Contributors to This Exhibition
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